Cambridge CXA81 Integrated Amplifer Review

January 8, 2021 § Leave a comment

The integrated amp has traditionally been more popular in Europe than in North America. The reasons for this include smaller living spaces, lower prices, fewer cables needed, etc. If you view an integrated as a preamp and amp built together on the same chassis, you have to admit there are some advantages. There is a potential for better sound for the money, since the output jacks, interconnect cable, and input jacks needed between preamp and amp, and any sonic colorations they impose, are gone. As long as the designers take care to properly isolate the power supplies of the different stages from each other, very good results can be had when using an integrated amp as the heart of your main system.

At a little over $1000, the CXA81 could be the perfect start to a system that is one step up from entry-level high end. You could begin with this unit, some inexpensive cables and speakers, and a low-cost or hand-me-down CD player (use digital-out), and have a decent-sounding system. As time goes by, you could upgrade a cable here, a pair of speakers there, add the CXN V2, and bit by bit hear the improvements, until you arrived at a truly impressive setup. The whole time the CXA81 would be keeping up with the advancements and performing well enough to pass on the increase in fidelity for each change. Highly recommended!

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